LECOM at Seton Hill awards white coats

GREENSBURG, Pa. – One hundred and eight first-year medical students from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at Seton Hill received their white coats during a ceremony on Saturday, February 12, 2011, at the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center. The ceremony is an important rite of passage for medical students. They have completed their first semester of medical school and are moving from pre-clinical education to more clinical, hands-on training.

Garrett Clark, D.O., M.S., gave the keynote speech at the LECOM at Seton Hill White Coat Ceremony. Looking on in the background is Irv Freeman, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President for LECOM at Seton Hill.

White coat ceremonies have been around for less than twenty years, but have now become a tradition at medical schools. Physicians have been wearing white coats for more than one hundred years. The white coat is a symbol of integrity and professionalism.

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Garrett Clark, D.O., M.S., LECOM Class of 2006, was the featured speaker at the white coat ceremony. He was a music teacher and accomplished guitarist before going to medical school. Dr. Clark told the students that by being in medical school, they have shown they have the desire to care for and serve their fellow human beings. “Caring for humanity’s ailments,” Dr. Clark exclaimed. “To me, there is no higher calling, no greater undertaking. And for that, I congratulate all of you.”

LECOM at Seton Hill medical students recite the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment during the White Coat Ceremony held on February 12, 2011.

Dr. Clark told the students they have proven their commitment to health and osteopathic medicine, but that much work lies ahead. “As you continue to learn and to serve, always remember that internal drive that beckoned you to this career in the first place – your propensity to care,” he said.

In reciting the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment, members of the Class of 2014 promised to uphold the high standards of the osteopathic medical profession and administer compassionate, quality care to their patients. It was certainly a day of extreme pride for the accomplishments they have achieved up to this point. The students are looking forward to what lies ahead.

“The white coat ceremony symbolizes our hard work and will keep us going,” said student Eliot Gibbs of the milestone event. “It really feels like I’m on my way to becoming a doctor,” he said.

First-year student Jen McEachron said she looks forward to moving from pre-clinical study to hands-on, practical education. “It was nice to get recognized for the hard work we’ve put in so far,” McEachron commented. “I look forward to everything that’s coming next.”

LECOM at Seton Hill held its White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2014 at the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center. Joining the festivities were (L-R): Garrett Clark, D.O., M.S., LECOM Class of 2006, Irv Freeman, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President for LECOM at Seton Hill, Alice J. Zal, D.O., POMA President, and John W. Becher, D.O., AOA Board of Trustees.

Kinsey Bernhard was elated that her parents could make the trip down from Racine, Wis., and see her receive her first white coat. “This represents the next step in our academic career,” Bernhard said. “So far it’s been challenging. A lot of studying and reading but it’s been rewarding. I’m looking forward to dealing with patients and doing more clinical things.”

Alice J. Zal, D.O., 99th President of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA), also spoke at the white coat ceremony. POMA donated the white coats. POMA previously donated stethoscopes to the first-year students, which were presented to them last November. Dr. Zal said POMA will be a valuable resource to them throughout their osteopathic medical careers

Others in attendance included John W. Becher, D.O., from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Board of Trustees, Irv Freeman, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President for LECOM at Seton Hill, and LECOM at Seton Hill faculty members Phillip Miller, D.O., Raymond Seifert, D.O., Virginia Syperda, D.O., Ed.D., and Donald Linville, Ph.D.


The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. Prepare yourself for medicine as your life’s profession.

February 14, 2011
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